What is FASD?

Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) is an umbrella term describing the range of effects that can occur in an individual whose mother drank alcohol during pregnancy. These effects may include physical, mental, behavioral, and/or learning disabilities with possible lifelong implications.  The term FASD is not intended for use as a clinical diagnosis.

The damage caused by prenatal alcohol exposure is permanent.  The health effects cannot be reversed, but many of them can
be treated with the appropriate combination of interventions and support.

Maintaining an alcohol-free pregnancy is the only way to prevent FASD. By abstaining from alcohol during pregnancy and nursing, a woman can ensure that her baby will be free from alcohol-related defects and have a chance for a healthy life.

FASD Covers Other Terms
  • Fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) - the only diagnosis given by doctors  
  • Alcohol-related neurodevelopmental disorder (ARND) - reserved for individuals with functional or cognitive impairments linked to prenatal alcohol exposure, including decreased head size at birth, structural brain abnormalities, and a pattern of behavioral and mental abnormalities  
  • Alcohol-related birth defects (ARBD) - describes the physical defects linked to prenatal alcohol exposure, including heart, skeletal, kidney, ear, and eye malformations  
  • Fetal alcohol effects (FAE) - a term that has been popularly used to describe alcohol-exposed individuals whose condition does not meet the full criteria for an FAS diagnosis